Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, August 3rd - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, August 3rd

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- A prankster's changes to the message on an electronic roadside sign in Buffalo may be causing motorists to smile, but New York State Police aren't amused.
WIVB-TV reports someone accessed the keyboard on a sign along Route 198 in Delaware Park on Monday and changed the message to read: "It's All A Dream."
The same sign Tuesday flashed "I Love You" before crews shut it down.
The government-agencies coalition responsible for the sign's traffic messages says it operates them on behalf of a contractor for the state Department of Transportation. The department says it is the contractor's responsibility to make sure the sign's keyboard panel is fully locked.
State police say tampering with road signs is illegal and poses a potentially dangerous distraction for drivers.

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FARMINGTON, Conn. (AP) -- Fifteen human skulls are among more than 100 items that went unaccounted for in a routine inventory at the University of Connecticut Health Center.
The Hartford Courant reports UConn officials submitted a report last month to the state auditor's office saying the skulls could not be found during two internal searches and an independent inventory by a private company.
But a UConn spokeswoman, Stephanie Reitz, said Wednesday that the skulls have since been accounted for and were never lost. She says some skulls did not have tags saying when they were acquired but they were always part of a larger collection.
She said it is difficult logistically to add inventory tags to skulls, which are used by UConn Health's medical and dental schools for teaching purposes.

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SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (AP) -- Jamie Kennedy needs to make room for another wedding guest: the man who found her engagement ring in the bottom of Lake Michigan.
John Dudley, the president of a metal detector club in western Michigan, fought strong waves and scooped up the ring after getting a signal. His reaction? "Oh, my gosh."
The discovery was made in late July, two days after Kennedy lost the ring while trying to wash sand off her fingers at the beach in South Haven. She says she was "sad, sick and disappointed."
WZZM-TV reports that Dudley reached out to Kennedy, a Decatur resident, and offered his services. Kennedy says she "practically walked on water" when Dudley gave her a thumbs-up to indicate that he had found it.
She says "miracles can happen."

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A dog is on its way to Asia after police rescued it from a swamp following its escape from New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport.
The collie named Dart got away from United Airlines' pet transport service on Monday morning. It threaded through traffic and several parking lots before ending up stuck in the mud in a swamp.
Airport police used a rowboat and snare to reach the dog. Dart was not injured during the 45-minute rescue.
The dog was cleaned up and reunited with his owner to make its flight.
Airport officials were unsure where in Asia the owner and dog were headed.

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PHOENIX (AP) - A Phoenix man is facing charges after authorities say he used a little red wagon to steal items from a home.
KNXV-TV in Phoenix reports that Sang Kien (KEY-ihn) was arrested last week following the kiddie handcart heist spotted by a homeowner.
Court records say the 43-year-old Kien was arrested a near the home and police located the red Radio Flyer wagon a few blocks away.
Police say in the wagon were various items, including a reciprocating saw and an air compressor.
Record show that the homeowner identified Kien as the man she saw stealing the items from her home.
Kien was charged with burglary.
It was not known if he had an attorney.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Police say a group of men with semi-automatic weapons and body armor went to a Kentucky Wal-Mart to prepare for doomsday.
Lexington Police Lt. Jackie Newman tells the Lexington Herald-Leader that officers were called to the Wal-Mart on Saturday night after people reported seeing men inside a car wearing body armor and holding weapons. A six-month old baby was also in the car.
The men told police they were preparing for doomsday and needed supplies.
Police found marijuana in the car and cited the men for the drugs, but did not charge them with any other violations. Police say a license is not required to have a semi-automatic weapon in a car.
Lexington Police spokesman Richard Willoby says the men were not doing anything criminal with the weapons.

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Austin, Minnesota - Hormel Foods is turning 125 years old this year. so the company has been celebrating all week with events throughout Austin.
That included an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Spam Museum downtown.
The museum has attracted thousands of visitors since its soft opening back in April.
The main community celebration will include cooking demos, games for kids, and live musical performances. The Voice finalist Kat Perkins and the band Perry are scheduled to perform.
Inside the museum, visitors will find exhibits explaining the 125-year history of Hormel Foods. Such as how George A. Hormel founded the company in 1891, and how it has expanded throughout the years.
"Hormel turning 125 is a huge milestone for our corporation because not many food companies around the world ever make it so far," said Jaynee Sherman, the Senior Brand Manager for SPAM International. "So this is a great celebration for us to celebrate with our community, celebrating with our employees, the brand that has stood the test of time."

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It used to be enough to know your first and last name when you started kindergarten. You got extra credit for being able to sing the alphabet.
But a kindergarten checklist posted recently to Reddit has created an online conversation - and stirred up parental angst - over whether expectations are too high for such youngsters.
"Is your child ready for kindergarten?" the note reads, asking parents if their child can do things like write his or her name, follow two- or three-step instructions, count to 10, identify colors and use scissors correctly.
The questions were just one part of a kindergarten supply list posted by the Tennessee elementary school that Jackson Hatcher will attend starting Monday.
The 5-year-old knows how to do everything on the list except for one: "Identity 30+ letters."
The alphabet only has 26 letters.
That's why the boy's father, Lucas Hatcher, originally posted the note to Reddit, with the cheeky headline: "I have failed my son for kindergarten."
"We thought the '30-plus' thing was funny. That's really what it was," Hatcher told TODAY. "Everyone else seemed to be pointing more toward, 'Hey, this is crazy, all the stuff that's on this list.' I was pretty surprised by the reaction on that."
Lucas Hatcher, who posted his son's kindergarten checklist to Reddit, said his 5-year-old meets all the items for readiness.
One Reddit user noted expectations for kindergarten students have grown tremendously over the decades.
"My son's school expected him to be able to read fluently by the end of Kindergarten (sic)," one person wrote. "I'm thinking back on my time in Kindergarten and all I remember doing was having story and snack time, watching other kids eat boogers, and recess."
Another Reddit user agreed: "Yes, used to be that reading was started in grade 1."
Is there too much academic pressure on kindergarten students these days?
Tom Arnold, principal of Ooltewah Elementary School, which sent the checklist to parents, told TODAY in an email that the list was intended to provide "a bit of guidance" to parents as they prepared their child for school.
He also acknowledged the school should have been clearer about the alphabet question; it meant students should be able to identify 30 or more upper and lowercase letters.
Educational psychologist Michele Borba said the checklist was fairly standard for most schools nationwide.
"If you do a search for any regular district across the U.S., these expectations are identical to what you'll find," she said.
The kindergarden checklist provided by Ooltewah Elementary School in Tennessee.
Expectations are so high partly because a growing number of competitive preschools around the country have started teaching academic basics earlier, but often at the expense of social skills, she said.
"The preschools have become so upscale in terms of the academic achievement push that what's tanking is Sandbox 101. 'It's my turn' and 'it's your turn' and learning how to listen," said Borba, author of "UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World."
Faye de Muyshondt, founder of socialsklz.com, said she doesn't see anything wrong with the kindergarten checklist and compared it to one she'd normally get during a visit to the pediatrician's office.
"Why not? I want to send my child off to school knowing what the expectations are. Even if the expectations are high, I want to know what they are," she said.
"When I go to the doctor's office with my daughter, for example, I definitely want to know what milestones my daughter should or should not be hitting."
The key is to be realistic about expectations - and how they may or may not apply to your child.
"My daughter is the type who exceeds all of those expectations. My son is not, so I just want to know what exactly is expected," she said.

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AU GRES, Mich. (AP) _ A man cut a marriage proposal that's visible from the air into a field at his family's farm in Michigan and got the answer he was seeking during a plane ride.
WNEM-TV reports Devin Huber and Lisa Marshall had been dating nearly three years when Huber decided to take to the skies to propose.
"MARRY ME" was cut into the wheat field at Huber's family farm in Au Gres and Huber enlisted the help of a friend for the plane ride. The station says they flew over West Branch, where Marshall grew up, and on the way back flew over the proposal.
Huber says he got down on one knee and asked if Marshall would marry him. She said yes and a wedding is planned in August 2017.

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DURHAM, N.H. (AP) - A New Hampshire man is accused of reckless driving after police said they stopped him in a Maserati traveling 135 mph in a 55-mph zone.
Police say 21-year-old Siyuan Cheng, of Durham, was stopped Monday afternoon on Route 4. Police say they confirmed the Italian sports car's speed by radar.
Cheng is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 27 in Dover District Court. It wasn't immediately known if he had a lawyer and a phone number couldn't be found for him.
 

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